18.10.2016

Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Barwell

Julien (82), Hickey (90)

Hednesford Town

(0) 2

(0) 0

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

237

Calum Flanagan

W D D W L W L W L L

Skelmersdale United (A) 22.10.16

A lacklustre, pedestrian performance from the Pitmen saw them crash to a second defeat in four days this evening, this time at struggling Barwell to drop Liam McDonald's inconsistent side out of the top five in the process

 

Saturday's narrow defeat to Blyth Spartans had given manager Liam McDonald much to ponder ahead of kick-off; Lloyd Ransome, Michael Williams, Joel Logan and Gurjit Singh all returned to the starting line-up in a drastic shake-up to the first XI, with Dan Crane, Lewis Wright, Ashley Sammons and Danny Glover all making way as McDonald swung the axe on some of his under-performing players

 

Barwell had spent much of the season so far in the lower reaches of the Evo-Stik Premier League, starting proceedings in seventeenth place after eeking out a 0-0 draw at Ashton United at the weekend. Manager Jimmy Ginnelly stuck with the same side that earned the point at ten-man Ashton as he looked for a return from his side that had only seen them win one of their last seven league games, with no wins at home in their past four games

It was a bitterly cold night in Leicestershire with a sparse crowd braving the autumn chill to turn up to the very basic Kirkby Road ground and witness the first-ever meeting between the two sides - quite a feat considering that the two sides are only a forty-five-minute journey from each other. Ransome justified his inclusion with a superb early save to deny Nathan Edgington in only the third minute of the game, making a brilliant stop low down to deny the forward after Simeon Cobourne had played his team-mate through on goal behind the static Hednesford defence

The Hednesford stopper was called into action once again in the eighth minute to deny Declan Towers as the midfielder's header from an Edgington cross was pushed away from goal by the former Port Vale youngster

Barwell skipper Brady Hickey continued the home side's assertive start to the game in the eleventh minute as he drilled a low shot just wide of Ransome's right-hand post with a well-hit long-range effort 

The visitors were struggling to create any openings of real note, as they were well shackled by a Barwell defence that gave no quarter against Hednesford's neat passing game that broke down on the edge of the home side's penalty area again and again throughout the ninety minutes

 

Attacking midfielder George Carline had the Pitmen's first real sight at goal on fifteen minutes, heading straight into the arms of Barwell keeper Max Smith-Varnam from ten yards out after Cohen Bramall had crossed for the former Redditch man

 

The Pitmen struggled to create further openings in a disjointed first-half display with Tristian Dunkley and Gurjit Singh well shackled by the Barwell defence. Logan's slalom-like run to the edge of the Barwell penalty area on nineteen minutes was checked by a recovering tackle from Nigel Julien as the winger shaped to shoot at goal

 

Indeed, it was Barwell who offered more of a threat going forwards, with Ransome forced into another save on twenty minutes as he turned a powerful Towers header away from goal

Four minutes later, an inswinging corner kick from Hickey was met by the head of Cobourne, whose miscued effort at the far post drifted wide of Ransome's right-hand post

 

The Pitmen were dealt a blow to their formation on twenty-nine minutes as centre-back Jimmy Mutton was forced off with a head injury. Wright came on in his place, with Williams moving to centre back to cover for Mutton alongside Calum Flanagan

It had been a game low on quality so far from both sides, with chances at a premium in the final fifteen minutes of the first period. Eddie Nisevic drilled a hopeful effort wide from wide on the right wing on thirty-three minutes before Dunkley's run in behind the Barwell defence four minutes later was checked by a late offside flag against the former Worcester striker

Hickey saw a long-range shot whistle inches past the post with the final meaningful action of the first period as he found a pocket of space twenty yards from goal before hitting a low effort at Ransome's goal

McDonald will have no doubt been glad to get his players back in at half-time to regroup after a ponderous half of football from his side that lacked any real cutting edge or quality in key positions

 

The Pitmen started the second half with more purpose, with Barwell's Liam Kay almost heading into his own net from a Tom Thorley cross on fifty-four minutes as the all-red Pitmen pushed forwards

Wright did well to win a 50-50 ball with Towers on fifty-six minutes and send over a cross from the right flank, only for a timely interception from Julien to take the ball away from the stretching Dunkley at the far post

Three minutes later, Edgington did well to hold off the attention of Flanagan and play a slide-rule pass through to the pacy Cobourne, only for a late, late offside flag to pull the Solihull Moors loanee back before he could get his shot away

 

The visitors made their second change of the evening on sixty-three minutes, with Jamie Matthews coming on in place of Dunkley as they looked to create something different from a poor performance so far

Both sides continued to plod through proceedings with the temperature dropping and toes becoming numb in the stands; Cobourne's shot from range was deflected safely into the hands of Ransome by the excellent Flanagan on sixty-eight minutes, whilst Logan lashed his effort high over the crossbar and into the roof of the building behind the goal three minutes later with a wild effort

 

With fifteen minutes of the game remaining, the Pitmen rolled the dice for the final time as Sammons was brought on in place of the poor Simeon Maye to play behind Singh and Matthews

The game appeared to be petering out towards a poor goalless draw, with neither side seemingly willing or able to break the deadlock; With ten minutes remaining, Edgington's downward header from Nisevic's cross was drilled high and wide by Hickey

 

 The game turned on its head two minutes later as Barwell stole into an unlikely lead on eighty-two minutes; a harmless-looking ball into the penalty area from Towers dropped to Nigel Julien, who had made a late run into the box and caught the static Hednesford defence cold. The midfielder slotted past Ransome from close-range unchallenged to bring some late drama to a dreadful game

The Pitmen looked to respond through successive Thorley corner kicks, but a combination of wasteful finishing from Matthews and good Barwell defending denied the Pitmen any real sights at goal.

With three minutes remaining, a quick break from Cohen Bramall saw him cut inside from the left-wing and clipped a cross to the far post, where Sammons could only toe-poke the ball well wide of the Barwell goal as he stretched to reach the cross

 

 With the game entering added time and the Pitmen seemingly out of ideas, Barwell put the game out of the Pitmen's reach with a killer second goal as Hickey picked up a loose Hednesford clearance and unleashed an unstoppable shot from twenty yards out, beating Ransome and finding the top corner of the net. A great finish, but questionable defending and commitment from the away side, who had never really looked like getting back into the game after conceding eight minutes earlier

 

The Pitmen leave Leicestershire having turned in in arguably their worst ninety minutes of the season under McDonald and will look to halt their frustratingly inconsistent form with victory at basement club Skelmersdale United on Saturday. The Hednesford manager may well have to abandon some of his attacking principles to get the best out of this squad of under-performing forwards, as he continues to struggle to get a level of consistency from his talented, but wildly fluctuating squad

Barwell: Smith-Varnam, Taylor, Nisevic, Towers, Kay, Julien, Gibson (Story 64), Stanley, Cobourne (Rowe 90), Hickey ©, Edgington (Ballinger 76)       Subs Unused: Castle, Morris

 

Hednesford Town: Ransome, Williams, Bramall, Maye (Sammons 75), Mutton (Wright 29), Flanagan, Logan, Thorley ©, Dunkley (Matthews 63), Singh, Carline      Subs Unused Crane, Glover

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